Working For The Man

September 25th, 2007 · No Comments

With the Global Filipino conference upon us, I’ve been privileged to have a sneak peep at some of the biographies of the key note speakers arriving down under.  I am in awe at the personal achievements of some.   Not only are they impressive but they are most definitely inspirational.  I’ve felt re-motivated, remembering a time in the dim past when I had a better perspective of things. And the memories come rushing back…

Mr. Greg Macabenta, legendary ad man from the Philippines is included in the prestigious list and will be tackling the topic, “The Impossible Dream.”  Ironically, there is nothing impossible to the man!!

I was fortunate to have crossed paths with Greg at the Advertising & Marketing Associates (AMA) ad agency in the Philippines. It was better known in the industry then, as the Advertising and Marketing Academy.  He was the President and Creative Director and I was a Junior Account Executive.

Right there at the Sta. Mesa building, life’s lessons were absorbed which could not have been found in any textbook. Anyone who walked through those creative doors was guaranteed to be life-trained.  I was lucky enough to have been initiated into the advertising world by the man.

For him, I dared the stormy seas of Manila Bay; chased a boat and climbed overboard in mid ocean; waded through Manila’s swelling floods; and gate-crashed every restaurant in Greenhills, in one evening, to deliver some advertising material to a client.

I was introduced to the word “lamay” (wake), where the only bodies found the following morning sprawled on the office floor or on the cutting room floor, were ours.   Deadlines took on a new meaning.  It meant stay in line or you were dead!

We became only too familiar with small food outlets opened at all hours of the night to calm our hunger pangs.  One such outlet was “Pukyutan”, a tiny food outlet that catered for jeepney drivers around the Sta. Mesa, “Stop & Shop” area.  During our late night brainstorming or ‘beat the deadline’ sessions, that place became our only hope for nourishment and survival.  But right there, amidst the smoky, dimly lit rooms, the most creative campaigns were hatched.  Perhaps, we should go back and put a plaque that reads: “Right here is where a creative mind sat.”

Yes, those brainstorming sessions whether in or out of the office were riveting. Then again, creativity was never turned off! It simply flowed. The passion was infectious and the wit was contagious.  Every now and then, you would hear the sudden shrill of the “aha-moment” or someone bursting through the door with excitement, “I’ve got it!”

“Can’t” was a word not to be uttered unless you intended to walk out the door, never to return.  Neither were the phrases “I don’t know” nor “I will check” allowed without an instant rebuff. My personal favourite was “Ask the right question.”

Fresh from university, we had illusions of the glamour and glitz of the advertising industry.  Such notions were quickly stripped and replaced with hard work and discipline.  We were given a reality check and lowered back down-to-earth.  Just when we thought we had finished with assignments, projects, and what-nots, we spent Saturday mornings in the training room honing in on our skills which he believed we had.

Tough would have been an understatement.  However, Greg earned the respect of all simply because he practiced what he preached and did what he demanded of us.

He lived by his name …Macabenta….translated it means to make a sale!  The whole concept of advertising was wrapped around his name and he did live up to it!! Better still, he pushed us all to live up to it too.

Today, I am grateful.


When star wars is a common occurrence in the community, the Banag-Banag Association decided to engage in stars wars of the more entertaining kind.  Big congratulations to the Banag Banag team for putting on their theme party, a “Night with the Stars”. It was refreshing, stylish and definitely different! For Michelle Ramas, the president, it was not mission impossible.

The Geisha girl’s indecent proposal was simply too hard to refuse and yes, the viewing public demand a sequel with the Men in Black.  Never, say never!!

Tags: Features